Academic journal article Journal of Singing

12 Cantatas

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

12 Cantatas

Article excerpt

MARCELLO, ROSANNA SCALFI (1704 or 1705-1742? no references to her after this year). 12 CANTATAS for Alto Voice and Basso Continuo, ca. 1 730. Edited by Deborah Hayes and John Glenn Paton. ClarNan Editions, 2012. Score with cello or gamba continuo parts.

These twelve cantatas are the only surviving works attributed to Rosanna Scalfi Marcello, who was a remarkable woman of the early eighteenth century in Venice. In the early 1720s, Rosanna Scalfi was an impoverished young Venetian singer who made her living singing at night on the boats in the canals of the city. Benedetto Marcello, whose family home was on the Grand Canal, often heard the voices of these singers. One voice of special quality and strength caught his ear, and he wanted to know who she was. He discovered that she was an untrained singer of very humble origins, but because of her extraordinary voice, he began in 1723 to teach her as his special protégée. Five years later, he married her in a secret ceremony so as not to anger his family and kept her in her own lodgings separate from the Marcello house. Benedetto must have taught her all the skills and graces that accompanied a fine singer, as she sang his music regularly in private concerts. Eventually, she wrote music of her own.

These cantatas are classic early eighteenth century style in both text and music. The texts, probably also by the composer, are mostly pastoral with the stock characters of Arcadia-shepherds, shepherdesses, Chloris, Phyllis, Thrysis, and others-common to the period in Italian story and song. …

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